Little Falls woman arrested for homicide

Jennifer R. Riesel / NYS Police

State police say they are investigating the death of Francis R. Nelson, 74, of 132 Loomis Street, Little Falls.

Police arrested Jennifer R. Riesel, age 28, from 8 Furnace Street in Little Falls for the second degree murder of Nelson.

Nelson's body was discovered Tuesday near an abandoned car parked off Eatonville Road by a farmer in the Town of Little Falls, 60 miles west of Albany. Police say that Nelson was laying on the ground with his hands and feet tied, 10 feet from the car, which was turned off with the keys in the ignition.

Troooper Jack Keller said Riesel told investigators that Nelson had asked her to kill him, saying she'd get $180,000 after his death, but police said they have no evidence he wanted to die. Riesel was unemployed at the time.

Keller said investigators can't explain why Nelson was still tied up when he was found, but Riesel's lawyer said Nelson chose the way he would die, planning it to look like a violent robbery.

Troopers say that Riesel and Nelson were friends who met through the local German Maennerchor social club where Nelson was president.

"We're still not sure how that arrangement was going to be made," Keller said. "But that was the ultimate deal."

Keller said that no money ever changed hands ands that Nelson's back accounts were all in order with no sign of thievery. Toxicology test results aren't yet available, but Keller said there was no evidence Nelson suffered from a serious or terminal illness and nothing indicating he was despondent.

"It's still being looked into, but we have no reason to believe he was suicidal," Keller said. "He was well-liked in the community and hardworking."

Nelson approached Riesel several months ago about wanting to end his life, said the defense lawyer, Ed Kaminski. Riesel had known Nelson for about four years and they had a relationship almost like grandfather and granddaughter, Kaminski told the Observer Dispatch newspaper of Utica.

"I don't think that this conduct was anything that emanated from greed and certainly not hate, but rather it came from compassion, although misguided compassion," he told the newspaper. Keller would not comment on what led police to Riesel.

Riesel is being held in the Herkimer County Jail, without bail, on a second-degree murder charge.